The Kiddy Sessions...
It’s been a long time since I last heard these songs. The CD they were recorded on seemed to catch some unnamed virus which smothered the songs with an impenetrable digi-noise which the music just couldn’t fight through. It seemed strangely poignant that these songs - the last recorded by this version of the band-took it upon themselves to self destruct in a cruel mirror of reality. I’d look at the spine of the case of that ailing disc as it lay arrogant and useless on the shelf and try to remember what those songs sounded like. On the day I finally threw that redundant silver disc away, I heard that an untarnished copy had been located. Part of me was delighted…the greater part of me was worried that my idealised memory could not compete with the harsh reality. The truth marries both emotions.
It was a very different version of Druidspear to the one that produced
‘…Slow’ which entered the studio to record these seven songs. Personnel wise, the changes were slight – Drummer Mike Richards had been replaced by Craig Shipley and John Curle was on board as percussionist – but this band was ready. When we recorded ‘…Slow’, we had a handful of songs, but a headful of concepts, ideas and textures. We knew what we wanted the songs to sound like, but we hardly had any. For that album, music was made spontaneously and under bizarre circumstances – I wrote and recorded the backing track for ‘Your Forest’ while Jim was on the ‘phone. …Jim made long ‘phone calls. ‘Featherglade’ was a Guitar doodle that I couldn’t play well enough to record, so Jim finished it off. Songs began as lightly strummed acoustic ditties and ended up as twisted robotic Funk grooves. And on.
Yeah, we were ready. Gig hardened. We knew these songs…backwards, forwards and upside-down. All we had to do was record them. Jayne Powell was studying at Kidderminster College and waxed lyrical about the recording facility and the affable engineer who quietly extracted killer performances from those in his charge. It was cheap too – it may even have been free. How could we lose?
The idea was (well…my idea was) to get the backing tracks down as live as possible and then augment our recordings with keyboards and strings…all it needed was one call to the Conservatoire and we could have made a Pagan Baroque record. I didn’t get a chance to make the call. Instead we got a raw but beautifully recorded relic of a band at the top of its arc.
The songs we recorded on those (two? three?) sessions had been the core of our live set for a year and we could play them well. Craig and I had played together for years and we had a strong, supple groove together.
Jayne was no longer ‘the new girl’ and played scarily accurate rhythm guitar and sang like a wounded angel. Jim had settled down and his guitar playing and vocals were stronger than ever. Paul was…Paul. 80% brilliance and 20% frustration. He reined it in and his contributions are lovely. John added another dimension to the rhythm and brought an endless supply of good vibes and positivism. Yeah…we were ready.
We cut the tracks as live as we could. No guide vocals. Didn’t need them. We knew the songs. I can’t remember many (any?) re-takes. No drama. No shouting. We set up, made jokes, recorded and left. Vocals and the occasional overdub were left to a later session. The songs sounded great. And then circumstances dictated that they would gather dust for years.
July 4th, 2011
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The Kiddy Sessions
A Blade and Killer Looks.
Blues for the End of the World.
In My Way.
The Sun, The Moon, The Stars. (Rushbury/Binning).
Druidspear Line Up
On this occasion is :-
Jayne Powell continues to delight audiences with her solo music, which can be found on her Myspace page.